Success Depends More on Character Than Skill

Bill English PhotoBy Bill English, Partner

In his book, Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, Dr. Henry Cloud says, “there are a lot of people who are competent and good at what they do who don’t get to be leaders or ‘hugely successful’.” He goes on to write that in order for competent individuals to be successful, they must be able to build alliances with others that are mutually beneficial. Such alliances create opportunities for everyone to be much more successful.

But Dr. Cloud went on to write this: “…people who posses the first two abilities [competence and alliance building] are a dime a dozen. There is no shortage of talented, brainy people who are very, very good at what they do and are able to work the system…to get things done.”

To be genuinely successful there is one more thing, he says: “You must have the character not to screw it all up.”

Have you ever known someone who was crazy smart, highly talented and yet they were achieving much less than they could because they kept getting in their own way? Have you known people who are unable to successfully...

  • Gain the complete trust of the people they are leading;
  • See all of the realities right in front of them, including their own derailers;
  • Work in a way that produces outcomes, not just activity;
  • Deal with problem people, negative situations, failures, setbacks and losses;
  • Create growth in their organization, their people, themselves; or
  • Transcend temporal purposes in favor of larger purposes?

You might be thinking that some of these things describe you.

Measure Success PhotoManaging these issues has little to do with IQ, talent, brains, education, training and so forth. The most important tool in business is ultimately our characters and yet this seems to get the least amount of attention and work. We focus mostly on skill development and knowledge saturation.

Business owners rarely look at their own personas as a source for the problems in their business. They fail to realize that their dysfunctions – even if minor from their perspectives – will get imprinted onto their business and the results will be seen as a business problem to solve rather than an issue the owner needs to shore up personally.

If you feel like you’re not achieving all that you could, then perhaps you need to look inward and ask yourself if you’re getting in your own way. Perhaps your lack of success is staring at you in the mirror.

If this article is resonating with you, then consider giving me a call. As a psychologist with 30 years of experience growing and owning businesses, I’m in a unique position to listen to your situation and perhaps offer ideas on what your next steps should be in your professional development.

Let’s chat. Just call me at 952-259-3217 or drop me a line at I look forward to talking with you.